By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer
No. 18 Baylor volleyball put up a strong fight, but ultimately fell to No. 1 University of Texas in four sets. The loss snaps a 14-match win streak in the Ferrell Center, the last home loss also coming at the hands of Texas last season. Despite the third-largest volleyball crowd of 5,604 in attendance, this was almost played on neutral grounds with a tremendous amount of UT supporters packing the seats.
“They’re a great team. There’s a reason they’re number one, there’s a reason they’re undefeated, they put the pressure on,” head coach Ryan McGuyre said.
Sophomore outside hitter Elise McGhee led the way for the Bears with 17 kills to go along with three blocks. Senior outside hitter Lauren Harrison followed closely behind with 15 kills and nine digs. Freshman setter Averi Carlson claimed a double-double with 41 assists and 14 digs.
The packed Ferrell Center was rocking early as the Bears (15-4, 4-2 Big 12) started off the match going up 4-1 in the first set. Before Baylor could extend its run, the Longhorns (14-0, 6-0 Big 12) pumped the brakes and were able to take their first lead at 9-8. The feeling out process was over at this point and both teams looked to switch gears. After multiple thunderous kills, UT increased its lead to three before the media timeout, 15-12. Not one to get left behind, the Bears consistently returned heat and hung in there, cutting the deficit 17-16. From there, the Longhorns took control of the set, finishing with a 25-19 win.
Texas turned the tables to start the second set, jumping ahead 7-2 to force an early Baylor timeout. Seemingly every bounce was going in favor of the Longhorns as they continued to increase their lead, and the loudest energy in the crowd came from burnt orange shirts, as Baylor took its final timeout of the set down 12-3. Out of the break, the Bears looked to spark some life back into the set with a quick 4-1 run. Continuing to claw, Baylor was able to cut the lead to just four at 15-11. The Bears fought hard and made it a competitive set, making it a two-point set at 21-19 before a Texas timeout. As play continued, the fans erupted when back-to-back Baylor blocks helped the Bears take their first lead, 23-22. The arena was shaking as the Bears were able to complete the comeback and take the set 25-22, the first set the Longhorns have dropped in almost a month.
McGhee had seven kills in this set alone to lead the charge against the Longhorns in the second set.
“Well, we’re down, so I’m just going to go as hard as I can and whatever happens, happens,” McGhee said. “We just kept building up the energy from the crowd into the team.”
Texas began the third set with a vengeance, going up 4-1 once again to start the set. Shades of the second set began to loom and UT held on to a 13-6 lead as Baylor used the first of their timeouts. However, the Bears continued their feisty play and brought themselves back within striking distance down 14-11. Every time Baylor had an answer, it was met with a response from Texas and the Longhorns jumped to a 21-14 advantage. Warding off any comeback attempts, UT won the set 25-17.
The fourth set began with both squads firing back-and-forth, separated by one point at 7-6 with UT leading. Texas went on a 4-0 run to increase its lead 11-6, then the Bears went on a run of their own to tie the contest at 11-11. Baylor answered, and Texas responded with another 5-1 run to widen the gap 17-12. The Bears weren’t ready to go away just yet, fighting to cut the lead to 20-17. The late-push wouldn’t be enough, as the Longhorns won the set 25-19, bringing the match to a close.
Up next, the Bears host Texas Tech University at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Ferrell Center.